You are driving, and someone horns at you. You had stopped at the traffic and were holding the traffic behind you. You didn’t realize until the noise brought you to the present. Where was your mind? Your thoughts were traveling to the future about an imaginary worry.
Your imagination was reliving a disappointment that you had with a work colleague. In your vision, you created a scenario that you forecast that may happen in the future. In your imagining, things got worse, and you saw yourself arguing with your colleague. Your mind transported you to fantasy.
It’s all a fantasy
Because of how our brain works, we tend to this a lot. Our thoughts travel to the fictional scenarios we imagine as an attempt to predict the future—most of this type of mental fiction roots in pessimism. Brain studies have found that our imagination mostly creates our mental stress.
Most of the threats that you worry about will not become real. You must get to know your stress and your triggers so you can stop the fiction. Reducing the pessimistic fantasies from your mind will reduce your stress and anxiety.
Get to know your negative bias.
Biases are mental interpretations from your past that impact how you see the world. These pessimistic traits make you pay more attention to fears, stress, and negativity in your daily living. You have stored these tendencies in your mind, and you are ignoring, avoiding, or even dismissing positive experiences because of the negative bias.
Your mind is looking and using more pessimistic information and than optimistic data. Therefore, you might see more threats, mistrust, and worries in your life than blessing, love, support, and trust. The propensity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive news.
Getting to know what makes you stress can unravel your negative biases. It can help you see what they are and stop them from pulling you into a downward spiral of stress, anxiety, and panic.
Increase your self-awareness about negative bias
- Notice your pessimistic inner dialogue. What is your mind saying when you are driving, walking, or taking a shower?
- Observe how you react to people around you. What people trigger your stress? Which people do you avoid and stay away from?
- Explore the reasons for the stress triggers: From the people you avoid or dislike, what are the reasons you do it? What is it that bothers you about them?
- Notice your emotional discomfort: What situations or experiences make you emotionally uncomfortable? What places or problems do you avoid because you feel afraid?
- Pay attention to the reasons for your emotional pain: Why do you feel stressed in these situations or places?
“When we are aware of our weaknesses or negative tendencies, we open the opportunity to work on them.”― Allan Lokos,
How much time do you spend on imaginary stress?